Sunday, April 01, 2007

Weasel Words

If you have had a gutful of trying to understand what anyone is talking about these days there are a couple of books or sites you might like to have a look when my eldest sister came out of a meeting at the hospital where she worked and said she had no idea what that meeting was all about...because it had all been cloaked in Weasel words which sound impressive to the uninitiated...but mean nothing whatsoever. She bemoaned the waste of time which could have been better spend doing Renal Dialysis...the job for which she is paid, than to sit and listen to a table full of Human resources type people find new ways to justify their existance.

I have recently finished "Weasel words" by Don Watson and "Death Sentence (the decay of public Language)" also by Don Watson. I reccommend a look at the website

Some examplesof the clarity of political speak which make it all clear as crystal:-
"Biological agent'What John Howard and Alexander Downer call flour.
The Age: 'Howard's bio-terror distortion.'Whack those HAZCHEM signs on your kitchen cupboards now.

'It's not an identity card ... it's an access card that's used to authenticate identity.'A spokeswoman for Human Services Minister Joe Hockey. From an article on
ZDNet (thanks again to Michael Crowe)

'If you cannot read, this brochure tells you where to get lessons.'Centrelink leaflet on multi-cultural services (thanks to Ian McDonald

'If accepted, (and we note that the factual matrix on which this hypothesis rests is not made out), it would not help ...'Tasmanian Anti Discrimination Tribunal (thanks to Jennifer)

‘Policy is a mechanism for the translation of the priorities and values of the organisation into programs and practices to deliver outcomes.' A government definition of policy. (Thanks to Craig Hamilton)

'A new focus highlighting the role volunteering plays not just in contributing to the delivery of government services but also in enhancing social capital, as a vehicle for community education and behaviour change, and for building the capacity and connectedness of individuals and communities in Western Australia...'Premiers Circular 2006/09-Guidelines for Successful Partnerships between Public Sector Agencies and VolunteersFrom morris in the


cs said...

This is funny. Weasel words....ha ha ha. Being in the school district, they are the originators of hoards of meetings with dictionaries full of weasel words! Before school, during school, after school...meeting after meeting, only to have one's eyes glaze over.

There is a secret code amongst the professional meeting goer; the proliferate attendee has that certain posture in his/her chair, cocks the head ever so slightly to the side, poses a slight smile reminiscence of Mona Lisa, and keeps one hand and pencil on the table at all times while tapping the fingers of the other on the thigh. The seasoned attendee can also sleep during these endless meetings with his/her eyes open. While having that glossy glaze, the customary head snap of falling sound asleep can be derailed if a smile and nodding follows so as to have the look of agreeing with the last comment. When "weasel words" and phrases pop up like teaming and collaboration, best practices, or continuum and deliverence of services, the upper ranks in file can usually counter attack with weasel words/phrases like self-determination, intrinsic motivation, and socio-economic awareness. The bosses then ensue the topic at hand. We never learned how to teach in college--just go to meetings and use weasel words. Those with the best and most original weasel words on their resumes got the job.

Ah yes, the weasel words...they permeate every profession. Those little buggers usually start cogitating them around the 3-4th grade.

rosemary said...

It was never so much the words at these meetings, it was everyone taking out their personal calendars to check dates for the next meeting. They are all so very important and busy. As a joke a friend and I got some cheesy date books and at the next meeting pulled them out and I announced I wasn't free because I had to change the cat litter and my friend said she couldn't attend because she was going to have a cold. No one laughed but the two of us.

JahTeh said...

Your sister and mine would get on so well together. Every time the big money consultants give a lecture, everyone waits for the big mouth in the front row to let loose. She hates consultants and usually reduces their weasel words to one sentence.

Sling said...

"It's not an identity card ... it's an access card that's used to authenticate identity"...well THAT'S reassuring.
Hey!..maybe they'll tattoo that on our forearms for us..